- Course studied:
- Sports Studies
- Year of graduation:
Born and bred in Stoke-on-Trent Liz Fletcher grew up opposite Staffordshire University’s Leek Road site, but she still planned to move away to study towards her dream career in sports development.
However, a change of circumstances saw her sign up instead for a Higher National Diploma in Sports Science at Staffs, which then allowed her to move into the second year of a Sports Studies degree.
And although she never meant to study so close to home, Liz felt she was in the right place, and a few months in to her course she moved into a student house for the full university experience.
“My student house on Thornton Road for two years was the house that I used to smash cricket balls into when I played out in the back with my big brother,” says the 35-year-old, who currently works for Volleyball England as relationship manager for Staffordshire and the Black Country. “The old lady opposite this house strangely remembered me and one day asked me in the street if I was the ‘Fletcher girl’.
“I am great believer that things happen for reason. I wanted to move away to university but on reflection studying at Staffordshire was the right decision.
“Being part of the university sports teams had a huge influence on my life and career and being elected as the Student Union’s Student Activities Officer for 2003/04 gave me an invaluable 12 months’ experience, allowing me to put my academic studies into practice and enhancing my employability along the way.”
Her school careers adviser may have laughed when the 14-year-old Liz said she wanted to work in sports development, but she has done just that since graduating from her BSc in 2003, with a small detour via teaching. Her roles have included supporting sports clubs at Nottingham Trent University, working as sports coordinator at the City of Stoke-on-Trent Sixth Form College (while studying for a Masters degree in Sports Management ) and being the regional sports coordinator for British Colleges Sport (now Association of Colleges Sport).
After being made redundant in December 2013 she decided to follow her father into teaching, but soon realised that her “heart lay with sports development and the passion for getting more people to participate in sport” – and she took up her current role with Volleyball England in April 2015.
Alongside work she has always volunteered within sport, mainly in rugby union, which she began playing at Staffs, where she has supported the development of women’s and girls’ rugby both regionally and nationally.
“I was convinced to switch sports from hockey to rugby at Christmas in my third year by the then women’s rugby captain Gemma Millward, and I never looked back,” says Liz, who now lives in Birmingham. “I loved it, and have continued to play since I left Staffordshire. The opportunities and experiences I have gained through rugby union have been instrumental in my career development and I have made some great friends along the way.”